The Kentucky county clerk now infamous for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 is still dealing with the backlash. Kim Davis will return to court after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the couple suing her can move forward with their case.
David Ermold and David Moore, now legally married, sued the country clerk for refusing to give them a license after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June 2015. In December of that same year, U.S. District Judge David Bunning tossed out the lawsuit after Kentucky Gov. Matthew Bevin issued an executive order mandating that marriage licenses don't need to contain the name of the clerk who issued them. Bevin said the new directive was meant to "ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored," and Judge Bunning said it meant the case against Davis should be dismissed.
However, the appeals court sent the case back to Bunning, writing in its opinion, "We conclude that the district court's characterization of this case as simply contesting the 'no marriage licenses' policy is inaccurate because Ermold and Moore did not seek an injunction — they sought only damages."
The opinion continued, "This action is not a general challenge to Davis's policy, but rather seeks damages for a particularized harm allegedly suffered by a specific set of plaintiffs."
So, Davis must return to court and face Ermold and Moore, who are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. However, the Christian advocacy group representing Davis is still confident she'll win the case. "The ruling keeps the case alive for a little while but it is not a victory for the plaintiffs," Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement to Reuters. "We are confident we will prevail."
As Davis comes back under fire for citing her religious freedom as a valid reason to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses in Kentucky, President Trump is expected to issue an executive order on the same topic this week. The "religious liberty" order will reportedly allow employers to discriminate in their hiring practices if employing someone would go against their religious beliefs.